DIANE Moller first met Marilia Pereira in late 2010. It was an introduction that changed her life.
Mrs Moller is the sole carer for her husband Peter, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1985.
Marilia Pereira is the region’s only neurological nurse educator with Parkinson’s Australia.
Now, Mrs Moller is campaigning to ensure Ms Pereira’s services are still available.
Ms Pereira is considered by the hundreds of local carers of those suffering Parkinson’s disease as the major reason they are able to look after their loved
ones at home instead of placing them in nursing homes.
She was appointed to the federally funded position by Parkinsons Australia for a three-year trial based on a successful British model.
The appointment was welcomed by the more than 500 Shoalhaven people living with Parkinson’s disease.
The trial was overwhelmingly successful but the government decided not to continue it.
Last year a private benefactor and the Bendigo Bank funded the nurse position but that funding runs out next month.
When Diane Moller heard the position was to be axed she started writing letters to businesses and organisations encouraging them to help fund the service.
“I am the sole carer for my husband. In fact, when he was first introduced to Marilia he was in respite in a nursing home because I was in hospital after having a hip replacement,” she said.
“One of the most important parts of Marilia’s role from a carer’s perspective is her monthly carers meetings.
“It’s a chance for those who attend to voice what is happening in their home and by discussing it learn ways to deal with it.”
Mrs Moller said Ms Pereira’s support enabled her to care for her husband at their Hyams Beach home.
“Marilia believes we should use the respite time offered to us by the government.
“By taking advantage of that time, I would put Peter into care at a local nursing home so I can recharge my battery and continue caring in the home.
“The only option we have if Marilia isn’t there will be to go to casualty at the hospital,” she said.
After hearing about the pending closure of the position Gilmore Liberal candidate Ann Sudmalis said she thought it was short-sighted for the government to stop funding the nurse educator position after the trial.
She said if elected this year she would push the issue to the fore.
“The problem is any funding achieved for medical services ends up in consolidated funds.
“It is not one homogenous mix, everywhere has its own unique problems to solve,” she said.
Labor candidate Neil Reilly said he would seek funding to support the position.
“In the meantime I will look into it and see what I can do.
“I’m very passionate about trying to keep people in their home as long as possible,” he said.
Donations to keep the service running can be made to Miriam Dixon CEO Parkinson’s NSW PO Box 71, North Ryde BC NSW, 1670.